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Cult Menswear Label Pyer Moss Ventures Into Womenswear

Female fans of Kerby Jean-Raymond's fledgling brand will soon have their own leather jackets and elongated tops to wear.
Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow of MS MR in the Pyer Moss fall 2015 look book. Photo: Pyer Moss

Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow of MS MR in the Pyer Moss fall 2015 look book. Photo: Pyer Moss

In only three seasons, Kerby Jean-Raymond's New York-based menswear line Pyer Moss has garnered a passionate fan base of women and men alike. Rihanna was photographed wearing his camouflage leather jackets in 2013, before he had even shown his first collection. Known for an athletic, futuristic-yet-minimal aesthetic inspired by motocross and samurai, Pyer Moss is now sold by Harvey Nichols, Ssense, Atrium Manhattan and Nubian in Toyko among others, as well as its own e-commerce site. The brand staged its first runway show in February, but even as it grows, Jean-Raymond continues to keep an obsessively close eye on every element of the brand. The clothing is all produced within a three-block radius of his office, and nothing gets shipped to a store or customer without the designer, his assistant designer or his partner seeing it. No wonder people are hooked. 

The New York native has plenty of experience designing for women — he started his career at Marchesa and Kay Unger — but it wasn't until he met Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow of the indie rock pop duo MS MR that he felt it was time to incorporate womenswear into his own line with a capsule collection inspired by them. The musicians star in the brand's fall 2015 look book, with Hershenow wearing the mens collection that debuted on the runway in February and Plapinger in the new women's pieces. The elongated tops, drop-crotch sweatpants, leather pants, shearling printed lambskin motorcycle jacket, bombers, leotards, dresses, t-shirts and crop tops will be sold only on starting this fall.

We spoke to Jean-Raymond about his relationship with MS MR, translating Pyer Moss's DNA to female silhouettes and the importance of establishing a visual identity for a young brand. 

How did MS MR inspire the women's capsule collection?

I don’t remember who made the introduction, but they came to the show and I really took to liking them — I listened to the music and became a fan. We were talking about what we should do for the look book and we wanted to get someone in music involved. We ran through the list and it was a no brainer; we thought, 'Let's get MS MR to do it.' But the problem is that we are a menswear brand and so I said I would quickly make a capsule collection for Lizzy. In designing this collection, while I was making the men's pieces, I was thinking about how Lizzy would look in certain pieces and how I could feminize them a bit and make them more friendly to her. The collection that we made for her was really just an iteration of our menswear and our classic "solid" staples. 

How did you translate Pyer Moss's menswear DNA into the womenswear pieces?

I must say this is my first time actually talking about women’s so it’s weird to me, but the cool thing about Lizzy is that Lizzy is pretty tall. We didn’t have to crop anything much, but we had to bring up the arm holes, we had to make everything thinner and slenderize everything to make it work for her. When Ellen, my assistant designer, and I were designing the capsule for Lizzy, we wanted to take a lot of those classic lines that we repeat every season, like the white piping around the calf of the drivers sweatpants and the scoop bottom hemline of the shirts, and make sure it resonated throughout every piece that we made for her. 

I realize this is radically different from what you were designing at Marchesa, but how did your past experience designing for women factor into this design process?

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It definitely made it a lot easier. It was actually quicker for me to do everything for Lizzy than it was for me to do everything for Max because I’m really just a year and half into menswear and I’m still feeling myself out on it. And I’ve been doing womenswear since I was 14. Playing with those silhouettes again and just drawing even — when I was just sketching everything out while my assistant designer was talking to me, I was sketching and I think I did the whole thing in about a minute and 30 seconds. She was like, 'You never draw that fast when you’re doing men's!' But as I said, men's is still very new to me. 

Besides Lizzy, were there any other women you had in mind while designing?

I was thinking about a few actually. [Editor and consultant] Shiona Turini is one of them. We were looking at Shiona's Instagram and looking at the way she dresses with the crop tops and everything like that. She's one of our muses. Jenné Lombardo, co-founder of MADE Fashion Week, was definitely one of them, and Miley Cyrus. I’m the biggest Miley Cyrus fan and I get shit for it all the time, but I don’t care. I’m not letting that one go. 

Will you do a full women's collection in the future?

It's really about how to do it in the right way. The most appropriate approach now is to slowly introduce some of our solid pieces like our camouflage leather jacket, our black basic leather jackets and do them in the women’s silhouette. And then introduce a full women's collection when it's the right time press-wise, when it's the right time in the overall brand. When I do release women's, I want it to be in a major way. I'll probably skip men's that season so I can focus on it, and I'd probably bring in a whole team.

What are your goals for the brand in the immediate future?

The most important thing is really establishing a visual and a lifestyle around the brand. Because right now, the way most people know and see the brand is at the shows and on a celebrity or if it comes out in editorial. And we absolutely have no control over that. What we’re trying to do is more in-house editorials, and we are bringing in a visual director who is going to help us more just overall, so you can understand who I am, so you can understand what the brand is supposed to look like, the way we design it. Just seeing it one time at a show and then seeing those images being repeated is not good enough. We are going into our second year of business, we haven’t even seen a full two years yet. We are pretty new and we are changing as we go and we are adapting as we go. So I could say that today and tomorrow might be a completely different thing. You have to be educable and you have to be a chameleon when you’re just starting out. 

We have a good base. Our retailers always say that we have really quick sell-throughs. There's just a cult that exists for Pyer Moss that I don’t know about. I’ve never met these people, but I clearly have a cult and I’m happy to grow organically. It doesn’t feel contrived, it's not forced, theres no celebrity backing or anything like that. It's just really great product and the people that support it. 

See below for the Pyer Moss fall 2015 look book, starring Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow of MS MR.